The recent virtual summit, “Enhancing the Patient Experience with Digital Innovation,” included leaders from health systems and technology providers who offered perspectives on the future of digital communication and its impact on the patient experience as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic. 

The common consensus was that COVID-19 accelerated widespread adoption of virtual tools for healthcare, but what’s next? Healthcare leaders are taking a closer look at how various solutions performed to identify the best applications and technology to support telehealth and other virtual modes of care. The summit explored how technology can improve the patient experience, alleviate pressures on healthcare providers, and create better continuity of care.

Leverage Technology to Meet Changing Patient Expectations

A common theme throughout the summit was that most other industries are very customer focused and patients are starting to expect similar levels of service. As health systems deploy digital transformation plans, seamless access to healthcare on the patient’s terms is a key consideration. Healthcare must be patient-centered and compassionate, but it also has to be convenient. As organizations like Amazon, CVS, and Walmart enter the market offering flexibility, ease of access, and more, traditional healthcare providers will need to be able to offer similar services. One of the things patients reported liking most about telehealth during the pandemic was the convenience. Technology will be an important tool in meeting patients where they want to receive care in the future. 

Maintain a Close Connection to Patients with Digital Tools

When healthcare is confined to a fifteen minute office visit, there’s only so much the care team can learn about a patient. In addition, patients are often overwhelmed in a clinic setting and may not retain information provided to them about their health. For patients with more serious chronic conditions or who are recovering from an inpatient episode of care, a connection to the care team is even more important to keep them as healthy as possible and out of the hospital. Technologies like remote monitoring devices, digital care pathways, and data analytics can ensure that both patients and care teams stay on track. This can empower patients with education, resources, and support to stay engaged with their healthcare and ensure care teams have important data and insights so they have a complete understanding of their patients’ health and can intervene when needed. 

Ease Burdens on an Overloaded System

Healthcare is facing incredible challenges including staffing pressures and strained resources. The pandemic put a spotlight on clinician burnout and limited healthcare resources. Technologies that can automate time consuming tasks, enable remote monitoring, and facilitate communication between the care team and the patient free up valuable clinician time and allow the care team to focus on patient care. Technology can also connect disparate systems for a more collaborative and connected healthcare system. One speaker shared how, in the early days of the pandemic, she was following Twitter accounts of providers in Seattle who faced one of the first surges of COVID patients to learn about emerging and evolving treatment protocols. She described the difficulty of finding open beds in other hospitals. In our current system a provider might just have to call around in hopes of finding the resource they need, rather than tap into a central system to understand where available resources might be located

Technology could never replace the patient-provider relationship, but it can help improve the patient experience, streamline workflows, connect patients with essential resources, and alleviate the burden on the care team. 

Interested in learning more about engaging patients at every step of their health care journey? Contact us today.

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